September brought a visit from Grandma Chris to take care of the kids while Jess went (all by herself!!) to be the weekend event photographer for a big Multiple Sclerosis Bike Ride on Whidbey Island, which was a big and new opportunity for her. Matt came home for a few days here and there (he’s been away for a number of weeks through the summer), and when he was home we took advantage of woods walks, parkour rolls, soccer practicing, iPad movie-making, continued involvement in our UU church… and other things I didn’t photograph (because I was busy editing thousands of MS photos!). The kids and I learned about the Kitsap public transit one day (while taking care of a car emergency), visited several museums in Tacoma, went to our Kitsap County Fair, played mini-golf, and enjoyed sleepovers and mega-lego sessions. Ash started orthodontic work this month (she’s growing up fast), we learned about the wonders of spiralized zucchini (Zoodles!!), and we (ahem, and by “we” I mean ME) looked forward to the summer slowing down its pace in favor of a slower, cooler fall.
After hiking in the Jewel Basin (in Kalispell), our little clan bid farewell to the family and headed south of Missoula for a few final days of camping. This time the weather was perfect, the lake was refreshing, the hike along the lake to a waterfall was amazing, the huckleberries were tasty, and the trip back home via Missoula was full of memories and future plans (Matt and I met in Missoula, went to college there, and married there too). Our trip back home, not surprisingly, included rain and a clogged highway (even on a Sunday, boo!), and a loaded veggie garden. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our neighbor Bob mowed our lawn for us, too.
After being driven by the weather from our beloved campground, we opted to head home to Kalispell for a hike in the Jewel Basin. I did this hike once before while living in Kalispell during Matt’s deployment. Matt and I were itching to climb a mountain, and we knew the kids could handle the 3 mile, 1700 foot elevation gain to the peak of Mount Aeneas. Jean came with us for the adventure, and so did our very good friend Alan. Jean and Ashton opted not to hike the last section, along a narrow ridge-line to the summit, instead enjoying the scenery and the mountain goats while the rest of us climbed to the top. The top offered the breathtaking panoramic mountain-top views we were craving. After our hours of hiking, we felt good and tuckered out, and had a fantastic excuse to have a beer and relax back at the Joneses (of course, the kids played all evening with their cousins, seemingly unaffected by the hours of hiking).
July began with a wild Bremerton Fourth of July, Matt’s Navy Rock Band performances, a family hike or two, and then a trip to Montana for Matt’s leave. We went to our favorite camping and hiking spot, way up in the mountains in Northwest Montana, and invited our tribe to join us. We anticipated a trip like the ones we’ve experienced before in this spot, full of sunshine, wildflowers, lakes to fish and swim in, and gorgeous mountain vistas (like this, this and this one), but were met instead with rain, snow, mist and, well, more rain. We huddled together in wet clothes under shelter as best we could, playing card games, heading out on a wet and snowy hiking trip, taking advantage of fishing opportunities during breaks in the rain, and enjoying time together in a beautiful quiet place. Finally, on our 5th day of rain, after the family had gone home, we decided to let the rain drive us out. There’s more adventure to come, though!
Matt was out of town a lot, so the kids and I did a lot of adventuring (although we did have some adventures with Matt, too). More beaching with friends on hot days, a hike up Gold Mountain to find it logged (it was so strange but gave us an incredible view), a date with myself, snuggles at home, sunset walks and homegrown daisies, trips to Wild Waves, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, and the Tacoma Zoo/Aquarium with friends, checking out our local Planetarium show, sleepovers and roller skating, a family camping/hiking trip, homegrown veggies, a sunbathing pooch, and more fun outside together.